Making sense of scents is no easy task. With the vast array of commercial perfumes out there – each and every one promoted and endorsed by a celebrity name, each one more prestigious than the last – it’s no wonder people find it easier to judge and choose by the aesthetic and marketing surrounding the fragrance, rather than its actual scent. With the advent of parfums de créateurs – simply translated as a tailored, carefully-curated scent that is sold in a limited number, rather than worldwide, the landscape of perfumery is changing. An unusual master of this craft is Parisian David Frossard. At first sight, the bearded and tattooed gentleman (incidentally, a Martial arts expert) is in actual fact a nez like no other. Frossard sits down with Schön! to talk us through his experience within the niche perfume market, what goes into a composition, as well as to discuss Liquides Imaginaires, the perfumery house reinventing olfactive story-telling.
After studying philosophy at the Sorbonne, Frossard found himself at a loss – struggling to give sense and direction to both career and life. He became interested in the opposition between and theoretical life and practical life, inspired by the Greek writer Kazantzakis. “Philosophy influences every aspect of your life because it makes you see or understand things that are usually unseen or not widely understood,” he tells us. He was offered a job selling fragrance in Africa – a challenge he decided to embrace, rather than sit behind a desk at the university. From there he went on to learn the perfuming trade at L’Artisan Parfumeur, Craddle Holding and T. Leclerc powders. He found his calling in artisanal and niche perfumery, something that was nurtured by his aversion for the limits that mainstream fragrances had. “I believe niche fragrances have a fascinating story to tell – the story of the creator and of the inspiration,” he explains.
Through his talent for revealing and creating the most avant-garde perfumes, Frossard quickly became famous for his niche perfumes. He plunged into his own house called Frapin and soon ventured into a collaboration with fellow perfumer, Philippe Di Méo, creating Liquides Imaginaires. The two are now transforming the perfume industry – bringing back the earthy, violent, the ugly and the startling edge to perfumery – elements that had been abandoned in favour of saccharine sweet tones. “It is our ambition to bring back creativity and art into perfumery,” he explains. By doing so, the pair take it as a given that the complex compositions will be a turn-off for some. But for those who appreciate the intricate layers and accords, these creations are special. “Our perfumes are luxury,” he states. “They are less easy to understand than more commercial perfumes but are more interesting for those who have a taste for fine fragrance. Like a Ferrari; the car is more difficult to drive than a Chrysler, but it is luxury!”
Before luxury, however, comes inspiration. For Frossard, inspiration for the perfumes he creates with Philippe Di Méo comes from everything, such as art, literature and travelling. Though he continues to work individually, his famous work with Liquides Imaginaires has differed from his other work because of his business partner, Di Méo. “I have the chance to work with one of the greatest creators that I have ever had the fortune to meet,” he explains. “It is a great intellectual connivance.” The pair’s most recent inspiration for their new trilogy, Les Eaux Arborantes, came from the power of nature. His goal is to have the wearer reconnect with nature by driving them inside the tree and making them feel the spirit of it. Within the trilogy there are three very distinctive narratives, starting at the roots of the tree with Tellus. The sap and its power to make the tree grow come second, with Saltus. The canopy and its ability to seduce birds and other trees with fruits and flowers is the concluding number to the series, titled Succus. Not only each trilogy but also each perfume has a strong link between them. “They are all luxury, tell a story and are open to many interpretations.”
Liquides Imaginaires continuously strive to differentiate themselves from the commercial realms of perfumery with an acute interest in the narrative compositions of the scents they create. A favourite, he confesses, is Bello Rabello, of the Eaux Sanguines trilogy. “It represents the time when the Roman general was allowed to go through Rome with his army and all his treasures and wild animals they had found in wild lands with weird fruits and amazing scents and spices.” What does it take to make a mark in the vast and competitive field of perfumery, we wonder? “Creativity and passion for fragrance, and the ability to tell the truth. To be French is also an advantage,” he laughs.
What Liquides Imaginaires provides is the olfactive tool “to feel different, to feel unique,” Frossard explains. “It’s a perfume that you cannot categorise quickly, a perfume which leaves you feeling curious and interested, and, like art, is open to interpretation.” In line with this, plans for the future included sticking to what the pair do best. “We always want to be labeled as an ‘artistic perfumery’ and never a ‘premium perfumery’ which is a claim made by many, but achieved by few!”
Words / Morgan Bridges